Thursday, September 15, 2011

New stroke prevention efforts

Stroke and heart attack prevention efforts made news this week, as government agencies and the American Heart Association launched an effort to stop one million heart attacks and strokes.

As NPR's Shots - Health Blog noted:
The campaign has two parts. One aims to change the behavior of doctors and patients. The other aims to change what all of us eat. Both are summed up by the acronym ABCS – which stands for aspirin, blood pressure control, cholesterol control and smoking.

In the realm of doctors and patients, Frieden and a phalanx of other federal officials want to expand by 10 million the number of Americans who have their high blood pressure under control and by 20 million those with controlled blood cholesterol levels.

To get there will require raising blood pressure control from less than half the people with hypertension now to 65 percent. Cholesterol control will have to triple.

The other medical-care strategy is to get people at high risk of heart attacks and strokes to take a baby aspirin every day. Fewer than half now do. The government wants to get that up to 65 percent.

Another goal is to get four million smokers to quit by 2016. That target is more modest – lowering smoking prevalence from 19 percent of adults today to 17 percent five years from now.
Forbes set out some important statistics:
Nearly half (49.7%) of US adults in 2007-2008 had at least one of the three main risk factors for CV disease – uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled high levels of LDL cholesterol, and current smoking. This represents a significant decline from the 57.8% prevalence reported in 1999-2000. The decrease, according to the CDC, “might, in part, reflect improved treatment and control of hypertension and high levels of LDL-C and implementation of effective smoking interventions.”
But we can do better. As said, fewer smokers, better control of high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Those are key stroke risk factors. Heart attacks and strokes hit 2 million Americans every year. More than 800,000 don't survive. Related medical costs and productivity lost: $450 billion ever year. We can do better.

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